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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, May 25

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Suzanne Nathan / June 22, 2010 6:58 AM

I was biking south on Damen, on my way to KitchenChicago to prep cook for my upcoming Gan Project weekend workshop that included a picnic lunch. When the storm presented while I was at the Addison intersection, first I only felt a few sprinkles but then saw the black cloud above, and knew what was coming. In the first five minutes, it was fun to ride in the storm, the thunder and lightning were really thrilling. But after five minutes, I felt it was too dangerous to be out there, particularly because I didn't have confidence that the cars could see me with the rain falling horizontally onto their windshields. That said, before I went to take shelter at a minimart at Damen and Diversey, a car full of Latino men pulled down thier window, one man smiled at me, I thought he was going to say something about me being out there, but instead, he handed me an unused garbage bag to fashion into an emergency poncho. I poked a hole for my head and two for my arms, and thought that was the nicest thing in the world that anyone could have done to me on that wet Friday afternoon.

that_girl / June 22, 2010 9:26 AM

Not me personally, but the crazy standoff that happened in Oak Lawn? Same block as my husband's grandparents. They know the family. And while all that nuttiness was going on, they were stuck inside their house with no power or air conditioning.

Andrew Huff / June 22, 2010 12:41 PM

Last summer, we went to a Cubs game, and I left my car over near the office, in Ravenswood. There were storms rolling in, so we left the game a little early -- and made it to Clark and Grace before the sky opened up. Walking just from Clark to Southport, we were drenched, so we took refuge in the Dairy Queen along with some other unlucky folks. Eventually we decided if we were this wet, we might as well keep walking.

The underpasses along Ravenswood were flooded, but by the time we got to the car, the rain had stopped. Even the cash inside my wallet was wet.

CVAL / June 22, 2010 1:34 PM

Many people in my condo complex have patio/balcony umbrellas. After storms I've never seen one down or otherwise out of place, so it was my turn to get an umbrella last weekend and wouldn't you know there were severe storms last night and this morning I found the umbrella in the balcony screen door - you read it right in the door through the screen. Not really crazy except that all my neighbors umbrellas were standing as if nothing had happened.

And yes I have an almost 50lb umbrella stand.

A.Lewellen / June 22, 2010 2:40 PM

This happened last summer. I had just mowed the lawn and I was getting ready to throw out the trash. The sky was a little cloudy but nothing that foreboding. I don't have a big back yard so it's only about 50 or 60 feet to the back gate that leads out into the alley so I walk back and throw out the trash but right after I close the gate it's like I stepped into a wind tunnel. These insane gusts from out of nowhere almost blow me over and it's literally like someone is pouring buckets of water directly on my head. By the time I make it back to the house I am completely soaked and when I look outside I can barely see anything because the rain is coming down so hard. At this point I should mention that I have an 80 year old silver maple in our yard. It's been there at least as long as the house and it is now swaying back and forth like a giant invisible hand is using it to swat flies and the leaves rustling in the wind sound like the ocean on a rough day. It's so intense that I'm getting a little worried but I'm soaked so I go and change and by the time I'm done, the storm is over. The whole thing lasted maybe 5 minutes. I walk out into the yard and first thing I see is a fully open hunter green patio umbrella smashing the hostas on one end and crushing the basil on the other. As I pick it up I quickly realize it's my next door neighbors who is a retired police sergeant and I only mention this because I think it's important to note the irony of my living situation. Me, thirty something half black half white street artist. Him 60 something Irish Chicago cop. I'm not saying there is tension there necessarily I'm just saying it's a little ironic. Then I notice he is out on his deck and I figure he is looking for his umbrella. They have a six foot privacy fence so I can't really see much of what is going on in their yard but I pick up the umbrella and in a semi humorous tone yell over the fence "I think I have something that belongs to you" and as I do I am sort of feeling like I have the neighborly upper hand in this situation, you know since his umbrella is in my on top of my plants and stuff and I have the opportunity to not sweat it. He quickly replies "Yeah and I got something that belongs to you". This confuses me. I look around the yard but I don't see anything missing. So I climb up on top of the bench we have next to the fence and peek my head over and there it is. Smack in the middle of his deck is a huge tree sized branch that had snapped off our 80 year old silver maple. It's so big in fact that you don't even really see the deck anymore just branches and leaves everywhere and my neighbor hunched over picking up broken glass. That's when I realize that their patio umbrella had blown into our yard only after it had been shattered by our falling tree branch. My stomach sunk. Five minutes ago I was feeling pretty good about having mowed that lawn and thrown out the trash and now I am trying to figure out what how much money to offer my neighbor for his wrecked patio furniture. How quickly the tables turned or in this case, shattered.

mike-ts / June 23, 2010 12:08 AM

Which tornado story to tell this time. Ok. I was out front when the sky got dark, but not strangely so. There was a slight breeze, which I noticed suddenly stopped, then I noticed there was not a single sound to be heard. A branch of the magnolia tree across the street broke off like it was slapped down, but the tree was not shaking and like I said, the air was still. The same thing happened to a branch of an evergreen, so I turned to run into the house when the asphalt gravel suddenly blew up in my face. Once inside, I threw open the windows and the attic accesses on reflex, to see and hear the roof panels violently slapping against the rafters. I never found the 10% of shingles I lost. One neighbor had a hole in his roof as if a cannonball hit it, and his garage door was shoved in against his van. Another had the man door pulled off his cement block garage and laying in the yard, frame and all. The damage that happened while the air was still, and the surgical precision of the damage, both amaze me.

Sue / June 23, 2010 9:21 AM

This was last Friday. My husband and I were just getting on the ohio feeder when the front came thru. it was crazy enough driving into these huge gusts and green/black clouds. but the strangest thing was right then a dog - an australian shepherd? - came running towards us, off the feeder and headed back into the city. I dont know if it hopped out of someones car or what. Thankfully traffic was mostly at a stand still so I dont think it got hit. Did anyone else see this? I keep wondering what happened to it.

Dmitry Samarov / June 23, 2010 12:37 PM

Hack: Flood

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